Tag Archives: the decision

Taking a Chance: My Leap to Expatriatism in Russia

russia-the-decision

It was some point during a University lecture on a topic which had no interest to me that I realized ‘I don’t want to be here anymore.’ Slightly ironic as I’d happily signed up to the three years and paid my dues to do so. And yet, at some point into my second year I knew that it wasn’t for me.

Not the University course itself, I did end up finishing it. But what would come later such as the task of searching for positions that I knew would not fulfill me or going through endless rounds of interviews lying through my teeth at each stage. It just wasn’t something that I had the heart to do. I guess I wanted to follow some free path in my life rather than struggle to climb someone else’s ladder.

Of course, that is easier said than done.

The lucky break happened during the World Cup in 2006. I was in Moscow as part of a year abroad through University. I can’t remember which teams were playing but I do remember that I got chatting to a Scottish guy who was editor for a magazine for ex-pats in Moscow.

We bought beers, ate food and I took his card. When I got back to my apartment later that night I wrote a travel article from the perspective of a foreign student in Russia and submitted it.  On and off over the next year while I completed my final year of University we kept in touch and I sent my articles in.

When my course ended I asked straight out for a job and got it. By that time he was working on a new magazine which was yet to launch and I was thrown in at the deep end to write content, source advertising and take photos.

My Russian language wasn’t the best and there were some tasks I was vastly inexperienced in. Building a sales team when I had no sales experience myself was tough. But I maintained belief and persevered and it came off. The magazine launched and it was a proud moment to have been part of something like that. That kind of break just would not have happened for me back home.

I guess my biggest advice would be not to fear opportunity. Chances really do happen, especially abroad when people are outside of their comfort zones. Strike up conversations, don’t be forceful with it and if and when an opportunity arises then take it.

And in my experience, a beer goes a long way towards helping too.

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Breaking Free: The Turning Point

A beautiful day on the canals

It only takes one moment or one experience for you to decided to turn your life around. For me that experience was actually the three months I spent living in Greece.

Don’t get me wrong my life was pretty good to begin with, I was born a Dual Citizen of the United States and Italy, my parents chose to raise me and my sister in the U.S. but we still enjoyed frequent trips to Europe to visit family. I mean it’s pretty fantastic to be able to say that while my friends spent their summers at day camps or in Florida I was off enjoying the sunny Mediterranean. Still something was missing, I had traveled to Italy countless times but I had never fully felt like I had traveled so in my junior year at university I made a decision that effectively changed the rest of life (dramatic I know, but true).

Since I was young I had been in love with ancient Greek and Roman mythology and I always knew I one day would want to visit Greece. So that was it, Greece was the perfect place to make my escape to. I set about applying to countless jobs, my parents were supportive but hesitant in my plan. The constant ït’s okay if you need to come home early” made me feel like they didn’t believe that I could make it happen for myself, but I did and boy was it the best decision of my life.

That trip was my turning point, I met so many people who were not only my age, 21 at the time, but younger who had been traveling for years. They all had amazing stories of venturing to Thailand, India, Spain really everywhere and anywhere you could imagine. I knew that when I returned to university that fall my life would be forever different, I had caught the bug and I was completely and overwhelmingly infected. Much to my parents dismay I made the choice to take a year off after finishing my degree. Two months after my graduation I was off, I spent three months living in Rome and then moved to Amsterdam, where I have been happily situated for over a year (so much for only taking a year off).

The decision to move abroad is similar to bungee jumping or skydiving, you know want to do it because of the thrill and the rush of adrenaline that await you but there are so many things that could wrong people often never take the jump.

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